Talk:Cistercian architecture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Austere Architecture[edit]

You don't have a specifically written article but your links to the Abbaye de Fontenay in particular and to Cistercian art in Europe are an excellent eye opener for those who who are not familiar with this extraordinary austere architecture. "Prayers of stone" I call it. There is some good write up on your French version for Senanque; you could just translate it. Don't sell yourselves short!! Cheers

Suggestion for improvement[edit]

The Spanish version of this article was featured; it could no doubt provide good information on the subject, if someone proficient in Spanish is willing to translate a lot of it.--Blingice 22:44, 7 May 2007 (UTC)


I doubt "utilitarian" is exactly the right word for these enormous buildings, housing relatively few people. I'm not sure about "rational" either. The significance of their metal-working skills for the architecture is not explained. The famous Bernard quote could usefully be added; they were not against all images, which I have corrected. When built, the churches would not have appeared as plain as they or their ruins now do. What does "Columns, pillars and windows fell at the same base level" mean? It's not clear to me. Johnbod (talk) 02:56, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Well, I was trying to expand on this version of the article, which was somewhat unclear in terms of language (it claims the stones were "saddened perfectly"). I'm not sure either what was intended by "Columns, pillars and windows… at the same base level" — presumably that the shafts of columns began at the same level as the sill or base of the window, although this can hardly be universal.
As for the other terms, the phrases "utilitarian and free from superfluous ornament" and "rational, integrated scheme" are both used by Lalor. The rational, mathematical principles involved in Gothic architecture are also widely recognised: Gunther Binding observes that the Gothic element of the new church was "a masterly and harmonious blend of construction, illusion, rationality, and theology" (quoted by Toman, p 14).
The letter by Bernard would certainly be useful under "Theological principles". I would however suggest that the section on styles of painting, in particular with reference to illuminated manuscripts, is more suited to art than architecture, and could be moved to that section in the main Cistercians article. --Grimhelm (talk) 18:16, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't agree on the last point; I will add it there, but it belongs here too - it explains why this is "Cistercian architecture" not "Cistercian art and architecture". Any information on the connection between the metalwork and the architecture? The current DYK hook seems a bit dubious, despite the reference, without further explanation. Johnbod (talk) 19:39, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
The importance of metalwork is now explained. The quality of metalwork was the deciding factor in the quality of stonecutting tools, tie rods and reinforced stone. --Grimhelm (talk) 20:05, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

It is indeed very self evident that Cistercian architecture cannot be characterized as utilitarian by any stretch of the imagination, regardless of what one historian wrongly called it. 60 ft ceiling heights are extremely expensive. They were clearly built for spiritual effects, not for simple utilitarian purpose.

Their chief characteristic is the elimination of the the distractions of ornament. That "austerity" directs the eye to focus on what is considered important, the grandeur of vast space to induce the emotion of the sublime, and to convey the presence of the spirit through the visual metaphor of the subtle qualities of light penetrating from above, illuminating the blank material surfaces humbly offered by man.

Art critics have tried to develop better descriptive terms, such as "minimalist", but even that term seems incorrect since the spiritual meaning of the architecture is heightened. It's power is maximized, not minimized. Mies van der Rohe needed only three simple words to describe his parallel intent for his own architecture for modern times: Less is More. Perhaps it is more appropriate here in lieu of "utilitarian". Miesling (talk) 19:59, 26 August 2013 (UTC)